Earth Architecture & Building Projectsprojects completed, in progress or planned
Earth is locally available, cost little, and has performed wonderfully from an energy/comfort standpoint. Our clay rich earth makes a perfect adobe. Placed moist into a sandbag or tube, stacked and packed, becomes a "brick in a bag" when dry, then plastered. Earthbag is strongest as curved walls. Arches, vaults and domes, are fun and relatively easy. The resulting curvy architecture has an organic quality that is softly pleasing to the eye, and is also inherently sturdy. Most of the animals here live in the earth for good reason. With passive solar design, and walls 14-16" thick, thermal mass keeps the structure much warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Using a local material to create buildings minimizes the need for imported materials such as lumber and fiberglass, and energy / carbon dioxide intensive products like cement and steel for concrete or block. Also see calearth.org, earthbagbuilding.com and earthbaghouse.com
Honey house in Moab Utah. Lack of tubes resulted in a change of plan to ferrocement for dome closure. Polystyrene chunks recycled into insulation between the nesting domes.2003
earthbag arc bedrooms
Ferrocement is essentially a web of steel fabric and sand typically an inch or less thick which can be plastered to take any shape, and which is incredibly strong and durable. To compare for sustainability sake, ferrocement water tanks last 50-100 years, compared to poly/plastic at 25yr, and steel at 12yr. Ferrocement combines well with earthbag. Rebar, mesh, and cement are widely available, and the use of some energy intensive materials is maybe justified in the long run considering replacement/repair costs, and the possiblities that imagination affords to create with it. The method is used worldwide for 50+ years in many communities for public buildings, homes, water tanks, boat hulls, and decorative elements. While being labor intensive (time tying the mesh), ferrocement allows small groups or individuals to construct amazing structures that cost little, and use the local sand. It is a boon to small communities, and relatively unskilled labor. (also see ferrocement.org, ferrocement.net, ferrocement.com)
Ferrocement is probably earthquake and hurricaine proof. It is used as a solution for vulnerable buildings in earthquake zones. Ferrocement box structures as precast ./ lower cost, high strength structural elements have also been developed for flooring and roofing of buildings. (also see cat.inist.fr, am-cor.com paper & slideshow, uet.edu.pk, imacwww.epfl.ch, and bhrc.ac.ir)
Ferrocement model code has been developed internationally - see our copy of the IFS 2001 Ferrocement Model Code (8.2mb pdf). Another good resource on technical properties and testing is Naaman's book Ferrocement & Laminated Cementious Composites.
A practice project for interns to learn ferrocement technique. It features a corner mirror and psychedelic theme. Probably the first approved ferrocement domestic use structure in Pima County.
Magic Bus toilet 2009/10
Project for Harmony and Health Foundation at Terrasante Community. Earthbag walls lie buried within a bell made of ferrocement. The space is designed as a harmonic/resonant chamber with alcoves, for purposes of playing with the healing power of sound. It is themed of tortoise, and has many esoteric elements added for energetic mojo. An aperture in the ceiling is designed to admit focused sunlight or moonlight for play and experiments with healing light.
Harmonic Chapel 2009/14
Ferrocement cistern, cooling tower
Other Building Projects
Nontraditional tipi constructed of pine poles thinned from the forest near Flagstaff, recycled billboard vinyl, old carpet- pile side down, and exterior latex to seal. This space cost about $300 to build, and provides good shelter from sun, wind, and rain..
The first 2 of 3 open air work bays completed of harvested pine poles and mostly salvage lumber/materials. Rainwater harvesting exists on 2 of the bays.
The "Boneyard" workshops 2008/10
This pole barn was completed with salvage trees from a burn area near Flagstaff. It houses native plant materials.
Pole barn 2007
Terradome Sunken Garden? - A terraced garden to a depth of 12 feet, capped with a geodesic dome and covers which control humidity and temperature. An experiment in food production.